09 November 2020

Sheila Glennis Haworth CBE obituary

Sheila Glennis Haworth CBE

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World-renowned paediatric physician scientist who investigated pulmonary hypertension in children and widely recognised for her global impact in improving the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

Glennis was an instrumental co-founder of the Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute (PVRI) in 2006, a role model for all the good that it stands for and its most loyal supporter, declaring her love of this organisation shortly before her death on 23rd October 2020. The links she forged with the Indian subcontinent on behalf of the PVRI in supporting the development of improved care for patients via establishing clinical and scientific networks is of particular note.

Her early years and education based in Keighley, West Yorkshire were no doubt responsible for establishing her resilience and strength balanced by kindness and empathy. She was determined always to do the right thing and was skilled in creating harmony when disputes emerged. she epitomised style and elegance in dress and manner, possessing an effortless charisma and sense of compassion. Her support and training of numerous young fellows was exemplary.

Her academic standing in her field was peerless and based on training in neonatology and paediatric cardiology including periods at Columbia University, New York in the USA, Hammersmith Hospital, Brompton Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK. In particular, her mentoring by Lynn Reid in the department of experimental Pathology helped shape her direction of travel. Based on her clinical and academic prowess, Great Ormond Street (GOS) appointed her Honorary Paediatric Cardiologist in 1977. Her promotion to Chair in Developmental Cardiology at the Institute of Child Health (GOS) followed in 1988, and in 1990 she was awarded a British Heart Foundation (BHF) Professorship, the first female awardee of such an honour. Glennis was a lifetime supporter of the BHF serving on its executive Committee and Research Funds Committee. Her husband, Major General Leslie Busk, Director General of the BHF between 1990 and 2004, survives her. Glennis received the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2007, an award from Her Majesty the Queen recognising only the most distinguished citing services to cardiology in the NHS, recognising her role in establishing the UK Paediatric Pulmonary Hypertension service.

Glennis was a natural initial invitee to join a group of like-minded individuals and establish the PVRI in 2006. She rapidly demonstrated drive and enthusiasm, tempered by balanced judgement that led to universal respect and a succession of leading roles. She became its first Paediatric Task Force leader setting the tone for undoubtedly one of the jewels in the crown of PVRI. She was the natural choice for President in 2014-2016 and during this period helped drive the transition of PVRI from a small academic society to an ambitious global medical charitable organisation aspiring to become the principal focus group for pulmonary vascular diseases globally. She rewrote the governance structure of PVRI, an essential behind the scenes activity, appointed its first external CEO and supported the successful development of Pulmonary Circulation, PVRI’s journal, by establishing its first Publishing Manager. She continued to serve PVRI as a Trustee following her Presidency until her death and her devotion, zeal and all round skills shone in this role. 

Glennis enjoyed many other interests, including music, theatre and painting. She played the piano and painted with watercolours often taking her palette with her when travelling. She was devoted to her family and supported her sister in her final years. She was the proud owner of two labradors, Petrus and Romanee, and demonstrated her knowledge, great interest and appreciation of fine wines!

PVRI has lost not only one of its brightest lights, but also one of its strongest loyal supporters and most respected of members.

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